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  1. A Healthy Body = A Healthy Mind

    A Healthy Body = A Healthy Mind

    As well as the physical benefits of exercise and regular activity, a fit and healthy lifestyle has also been clinically proven to be one of the most effective ways of improving your mental health. With mental health spanning from stress and anxiety through to intense depression and with an estimated one fifth of UK adults suffering from some kind of mental health issue each year, the question is how can exercise really help?

    Exercise A Secret Remedy?


    For many who have encountered mental health issues, the thought of getting out and exercising may be daunting, however it has been proven that regular exercise can relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better and boost your overall mood.

    Building Exercise Into Your Routine?


    If like so many of us you have a busy lifestyle and are not currently a fitness enthusiast, but want to reap the benefits of fitness, you will firstly be pleased to know that research also indicates that modest amounts of exercise can also make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to make you feel better. As your confidence and fitness levels increase, there are so many ways to get the best out of your fitness routine.

    Start Early


    For the best results, try to schedule your workout at the time of day when your energy is this highest. Although a battle for many, the time in the morning before work or a school run can provide you with a great opportunity to get out in the air and get you ready for the day ahead. For added benefits, try to make your early morning session a fasted cardio session (before breakfast), this can help you to become more efficient at using existing fat stores in your body, whilst also ensuring your hormones are in the perfect alignment for fatty acid mobilisation.

    Running


    If you are looking for an exercise that is easy to work around your busy schedule, love it or hate it, running is a fantastic cardio exercise, giving you the freedom to get outside and build stamina and endurance. What’s great about running is that it can also be something you do on your own, giving you the breathing space you need, or something that is extremely social. It’s rare that you head out for a morning run and don’t meet other runners, or if you get really confident in your stride there are hundreds of running clubs up and down the country many of which are easy to access and often free to join.

    Weight Training


    As well as cardio training, moderate intensity resistance training has also been linked with improved mental health, with studies showing that resistance training can also provide some real benefits to aspects of cognition in older adults. Try to build some moderate intensity resistance exercises into your cardio a few days a week.

    Set A Personal Goal


    One of the most difficult factors when it comes to improving your fitness, is staying on track and staying focused. All too often, no matter how great the benefits, there is a tendency to fall back to old habits and not to push yourself or progress. A sure fire way of making sure you stick to your programme is to set yourself a challenge or a goal. This could be anything from a 10km run to a half marathon, from a new personal best in the gym to a weightlifting competition, through to one of the hundreds of challenge events taking place each year. Having a date in the diary and that knowledge that you have to achieve something will help you stay on track and achieve your goal.

    Diet and Fitness The Perfect Partnership


    Diet and fitness are usually seen to go hand in hand and when it comes to looking after your mental wellbeing, the combination of a great diet and a quality fitness routine are essential. Nutrition plays a bigger role in mental health than many of us realise, with evidence suggesting that what we eat can contribute to the development, management and prevention of some mental health problems. So what do we need in our diets to ensure we stay as healthy as possible?

    The consumption of lots of fruit and vegetables have been proven to have a positive impact, but along with this we need to ensure our diets provide adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Many of which lack from what we eat on a day to day basis.

    Although certainly not a cure for mental health problems, there is clear evidence pointing towards exercise and diet as a good way to influence symptoms which many of us encounter every day. Whether it’s stress, anxiety or one of the whole host of others, finding ways to incorporate fitness into our day to day routine can help reduce symptoms and provide a new focus or goal. Even small amounts of change in levels of physical activity, or diet can have a positive impact.

    Keep your eyes peeled for our range of simple home workouts and for information about supplement products that may be suited to your training programme or diet.

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  2. The best supplements to stack with a whey protein shake

    If you’re looking to get more out of your whey protein supplements then past a certain point increasing the amount you take isn’t going to get you the results you’re after - in fact, it’s more likely that the excess will just turn into fat as you’re consuming more protein than your body can use effectively! Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain mass, or just stay healthy, there is one sure fire way you can really boost the effectiveness of the supplements you’re taking - stacking.

    Stacking supplements for beginners

    When people call something a supplement stack what they’re talking about is a group of supplements that are synergistic with each other. It doesn't mean that you need to take them all at the same time though, just that incorporating each of them into your training routine will help you to see even more benefits than you would if you were taking a single supplement.

    Whey protein is one of the most popular supplements around right now because it offers a myriad of different benefits so if you’re trying to amplify one of those then taking it in combination with supplements that have a similar effect will help you to meet your goals a lot faster.

    Improving strength and endurance

    If you’re the kind of person who gets a lot of satisfaction from hearing the clattering sound as you add another 25kg plate onto the barbell then stacking your whey protein with other powerful supplements can help make you the envy of the other lifters at the gym. Creatine is one of the best supplements to help you gain both size and strength because as it’s broken down during exercise it releases large amounts of energy in your muscle cells that can be used for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is essentially muscle fuel. It’s especially useful at giving you the quick burst of energy you need for intense, explosive exercises like weightlifting.

    Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid that can also work very effectively with a whey protein supplement to help you gain strength. It’s one of the most abundant amino acids in the body so it is often overlooked when it comes to supplementation, but when you’re exercising in ways that put your body under a lot of stress it can be one of the most helpful supplements around! Endurance athletes and powerlifters in particular can often find themselves deficient in glutamine and redressing this can lead to measurable gains in strength, endurance, and muscle mass. Glutamine also plays an important role in powering your immune response and athletes who supplement with it generally have lower levels of infection and recover from any muscular damage faster than those who don’t.

    Strength and endurance stack: Whey Protein, Creatine, Amino Acids

    Fast muscle mass gains

    Whey protein is fantastic for helping you with your muscle gains, but if you’re looking to put on a lot of new muscle then calorie consumption is also really important. If you’re only taking in as many calories as you burn to get through your daily activities you won’t have enough available to build muscle effectively. For this reason creating a calorie surplus with a weight gainer can really help you to get more out of your whey protein supplements as you’ll be getting a much better balance of protein, carbs, and fats.

    Pre-workout boosters are also great at helping you put on muscle mass as they’ll give you the energy to exercise longer and more effectively. AMSport’s pre-workout booster contains high levels of beta alanine and creatine which keep you sharp and boost your endurance, allowing you to extract every last ounce of performance out of your whey protein shake.

    Muscle and mass gains stack: Whey Protein, Weight Gainer, Pre-workout Booster

    Fat loss

    When you’re looking to shed some excess fat fast the obvious answer is to make sure you’re burning more calories than you take in. If you don’t plan this carefully though there’s a good chance you could throw away a lot of the progress you’ve made by losing a lot of muscle mass at the same time. Cutting the amount of whey protein you take slightly can help, as can taking it in conjunction with a BCAA supplement. Whey protein itself contains a nice amount of BCAAs but boosting your intake to around 5-10g per serving can really help you see fat loss results faster. This is because taking whey protein in conjunction with BCAAs keeps your body in a state that is more conducive to fat burning and muscle building. A lot of amino acids are lipotropic, which means that they catalyse the breakdown of fat and make it more readily available to your body as energy. With more fat to burn your body doesn’t need to start catalysing lean tissues, helping you to lose the fat while building muscle.

    L-Carnitine is another popular fat burning supplement that has great synergy with whey protein supplements. Like some of the amino acids in the BCAA supplement it helps your body turn your fat stores into energy more effectively, but it does this by helping transport long-chain fatty acids across cell membranes and straight into the mitochondria where they’re used as fuel for the creation of ATP. Because your body is burning fat instead of lean tissue for energy it also keeps your muscles working aerobically rather than anaerobically, preventing the buildup of lactic acid and letting you exercise for longer before you start to feel sore.

    Fat burning stack: Whey Protein, BCAAs, L-Carnitine

    Conclusion

    Everybody’s perfect stack is slightly different, so you might find after a while that changing some of these combos up will work better for you. But for those of you looking to get the most out of your whey protein who don’t have the time or experience to formulate your ideal stack right now, our recommendations will help you hit your goals faster and hopefully lead to immediate improvements in your efforts at the gym. Whatever it is you’re looking for, stacking your supplements in an efficient way will help you get there!

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  3. Can vitamin D make you a better athlete?

    Can vitamin D make you a better athlete?

    We’ve known for a while that athletes tend to perform better in the summer months than they do during the winter. Some people have hypothesised that one of the reasons for this is that the higher levels of UV light in the summer increase the body’s production of vitamin D. A 2013 study found that while further research is needed before we can definitively say that vitamin D suplemments directly improve performance, maintaining optimum vitamin D levels should be an important goal for athletes due to its many health benefits.

    Sources of vitamin D

    One of our main sources of vitamin D is our skin’s reaction to sunlight, and in the UK from early April until the end of September it’s possible to get all the vitamin D we need from being out in the sun. If you spend most of your day indoors or wear clothes that cover up most of your skin though you won’t be getting as much as you need. During the winter months we don’t get any vitamin D from sunlight.

    Vitamin D isn’t really abundant in foods but there are some good dietary sources of it such as oily fish, liver, and fortified foods such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals.

    Potential effects of vitamin D deficiency

    Vitamin D plays a crucial role in many vital physiological functions and sub-optimal levels can cause a variety of problems that can hurt your ability to train and perform at the level you want to. As well as being a key reason for the loss of muscle mass and strength as we age, low levels of vitamin D can also leave you with poor bone density, a weaker immune system, and chronic feelings of tiredness and weakness. In a more general sense, vitamin D deficiency also increases the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases and can be a cause of high blood pressure.

    How vitamin D benefits athletes

    If you’re not getting enough in your day to day life, taking vitamin D supplements can indirectly improve athletic performance by lowering the risk of injury, decreasing chronic exercise related pain, and improving general muscle performance.

    The discovery of vitamin D receptors within muscle also suggests a significant role for vitamin D in muscle tissue function, particularly in cellular growth and inflammatory response. A common symptom of vitamin D deficiency is muscle weakness, so supplementation can also help keep them functioning properly and keep you strong.

    Conclusion

    Our bodies rely on replenishing stores of vitamin D daily to meet its requirements as we often don’t get enough in our diet generally, let alone enough for there to be any significant stores of it in the body. By making sure you’re getting a healthy amount by taking vitamin D supplements, particularly during the winter months, you can reduce your risk of injury and improve your general health. Athletes often find that they’re at peak physical fitness during the time of the year UVB levels and natural vitamin D production are at their highest, so vitamin D supplementation can be a great way of making sure you’re performing at your peak at all times.

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